Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(67) Keith Arkell, and the small world of chessplayers

I joined Cornhill Publications on Jan 28th 1991.
I discovered that the man who interviewed me, Laurence Garman, was a chess affiçianado and, in the 1970s, had frequented London chess cafés, instead of working.
Laurence was the sales director, the number two in the company.

Later on that year a new chess café opened in North London, which he and I were apt to frequent.

In May a new starter at the firm began work at the desk opposite me.
His name was Matthew Barnes and he revealed that he had once been really into chess and had even played in the big Evening Standard tournaments in London of the 1970s.

I later discovered that another of the seventy or so sales staff at the company, Steve Jansson, had also once been very keen on chess and had also sometimes played in those Evening Standard events.

In the summer of 1991 another new starter at Cornhill, Tony Zucker, said that he had once come second in the London Junior Chess Championships.

In June 1991 Maurice Smith joined the company and sat down at an adjacent desk.

On June 5th I browsed through a copy of my book Playing To Win that was in the office.
I saw that one of my games that I had included was from 1983 Vs Keith Arkell.

About four minutes later Smith asked me “Do you still play with people like Keith Arkell?”.

It transpired that he had known International Master (subsequently Grandmaster) Arkell in the Midlands in the 1970s when he himself had played chess and indeed had had a grade of 180; a strong county player.
He had played in chess tournaments in Guernsey, as had I, and he too had played in the big London Evening Standard events.

Also in 1991, Mike Willard of Redbourne, Hertfordshire, joined the company.
It turned out that although he was not a chessplayer, his son Guy was, and he had driven him to, e.g. the Herts Weekend Chess Congress in Hitchin, an event in which I had sometimes participated.
Also, Tim Wall (see Entry 154) who had been one of my opponents whom I had defeated the previous year en route to winning the British Championship, was a good friend of his son, Guy.

In 1995 I began working for Sterling Publications - the parent company of Cornhill.
One day a Greek chap working there who called himself Tony Tyrell (although his real name was nothing like that) told me that he was a chess enthusiast and had indeed been the bulletin editor at the World Championship Zonal event of the Balkans (Zone 6) some years previously

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